It's the classic tug-of-war scenario. If you're like most IT managers, you've probably got a corporate master telling you to (a) deliver more processing power and provide more storage at the data center, and (b) cut costs, particularly energy costs, while you're at it. Oh, and there's no budget for either building or systems architectural changes.
So now you're left with a server farm in which heat is rapidly being concentrated due to blades and consolidation, with cooling systems designed for an earlier generation of technology that spread the heat load more evenly.
But there are a number of strategies you can employ to alleviate these pressures right now, according to a recent article in Infostor. They run the gamut from simply spreading new gear over more racks (provided you have the room) to deployment of the newest water-cooled racks, which provide dissipation that is several orders of magnitude greater than air-cooled systems.
But even among liquid-cooled solutions, there are fightin' words being thrown about, as this Q&A with Verari Systems CTO Dave Driggers reveals. He certainly doesn't shy away from voicing his opinion on the latest systems coming from the likes of HP, IBM and Sun.
But even if the right cooling technology does finally make its way into your center, there are still a host of considerations when it comes to managing power loads, heat loads, floor space and the like. New infrastructure management systems are taking some innovative approaches to power and cooling issues. The InfraStruXure Central 4.0 system from APC-MGE, for example, melds a CAD module with real-time monitoring and ITIL management applications to deliver a holistic view of the entire datacenter life cycle.
Then again, there's nothing wrong with a more direct approach. Simply investing in lower-wattage servers is something akin to that iconic parental admonition to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. IBM is pursuing this approach by offering System x servers with 50-watt Xeon 5300 quads and LS41 blades with low-wattage Opterons.
We're not the first to say that lowering power and running cooler is a sign of the energy-deprived times. But don't think that addressing power concerns is a one-time project. It will be an ongoing process from here on out.